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Tim Buff


Chief Learning Strategist

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Mobile: the de facto way for learning at work?


Mobile has become the de facto standard for learning at work. But you have to know how to use it. In this blog we reveal how to harness the power of mobile learning to the greatest effect.

What’s the first thing anyone does when they want to learn about something these days? They pull out their mobiles and look it up on Google, Wikipedia or YouTube. Easy! But do you know what they used to do?

They used to pore through books looking for answers. They used to attend seminars, sit through PowerPoint presentations or stare blankly at a whiteboard. For anyone who can remember the TV ads from the 1970s, it’s enough to make you roll about laughing like those metal Martian robots when they heard about how we earthlings used to cook potatoes before Cadbury’s Smash.

Mobiles are now ubiquitous. Whether in the office, out on the road or at home, we get all our information from them. Organisations are increasingly realising that mobile learning is the best and most cost-effective way to educate and train their employees. To put it another way, mobiles provide the lowest cost solution for accessing the greatest quantity of knowledge. It’s fast and flexible.

A well-designed mobile learning module is fast as well as flexible. It can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world and won’t take up as much of the learner’s valuable time. Rather than having to be in a certain place at a certain time to receive training, learners can access their learning while on a train or sitting in a hotel room.

We know from the Agylia Learning Technology Research Project that people don’t generally sit at their office desks to learn - 76% of them are out of the office and 66% complete their modules at home. It seems that, when learning is easily accessible, useful and enjoyable, people are quite happy to study and complete tasks outside working hours and in any free time during the day.

This flexibility has led to a rapid growth in microlearning, a training technique which has benefitted enormously from the advent of smartphones and vice versa. Microlearning delivers teaching programmes in small, specific bursts that learners can access wherever and whenever they want. It holds great appeal for staff and companies alike. According to a recent Association for Talent Development (ATD) study, 92% of learning professionals expect their organisations to increase their investment in it this year.

Microlearning is a perfect fit for the way we use our mobile devices to consume and digest information. In particular, the larger touchscreens of tablets are ideal for gesture and game-based interaction, which helps to stimulate our senses. However, in order get the best out of this happy marriage of technology and learning, there are three steps you should take before you tie the knot.

  1. Make sure your content is specifically designed for mobile learning. Mobile first should be your maxim.
  2. Recognise the advantages of a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy - including ease of access to content, increased productivity and morale as well as cost savings.
  3. Run your learning programme on a dedicated App.

This last step is the most important for the following reasons:

  • Mobile users don’t like using a generic browser. They know the delivery of the information won’t be as good. It takes them longer to find it - even if they have a URL.
  • An App says to the user, “here is the information you need”. A browser says, “here is a place to start looking for what you need’’. The latter is extremely off-putting, not to mention irritating.
  • With an App there is more consistency in the way information is displayed. It is still the case that different browsers on different devices can cause some elements to be displayed differently. An App ensures that that won’t happen.
  • Within an App environment, (consistent) branding is much easier.
  • With an App you can deliver all sorts of messages and set up a common destination for them, all with a single tap.
  • An App is the ideal vehicle for sending push notifications to users. It is widely acknowledged that, while only 5% of promotional email messages are read, an impressive 97% of push notifications are opened and 90% of them are read within the first three minutes of their arrival!

Today’s learners want to be able to access their learning and support materials at convenient times and in surroundings of their choice. Apps are the easiest way to provide this service. While there may still be a requirement for more formal learning in the work environment for some specialist skills, mobile learning has become the accepted solution for most learning requirements and its popularity is increasing all the time.

Author Profile Picture
Tim Buff

Chief Learning Strategist

Read more from Tim Buff

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